Several people have asked me about what I buy and where I shop for “real food”, so I decided to complie a list of resources and provide some definitions. Much of my nutritional paradigm is informed by the Weston A. Price Foundation, which advocates “traditional” diets and eschews all processed foods. More on what “traditional” diets and “real food” mean after the list.
Fruits & Vegetables
- Sage Mountain Farm- appear at most farmers markets
- Suzie’s Farm- farm is in San Diego proper (near Imperial Beach) in the Tijuana River Valley, 1/2 mile from the ocean; appear at most farmers markets; also have their own farm stand and CSA
- JR Organics- farm is in San Diego county; appear are at most farmers markets
- Sprouts Farmers Market- not an actual farmers market, this is a regional small-store chain in the southwest; has a decent, fairly consistent organic section; a wider array of vegetables than fruits; they do buy from all over the world, so if local is important to you, check the label (peaches and blueberries don’t grow in December in the northern hemisphere, e.g.)
Seeds, Nuts & Grains
- Whole Foods- organic corn tortillas; organic (bulk) oats and other grains/flours; organic bulk beans
- Trader Joe’s- has a decent selection of raw nuts (which you can soak/dehydrate yourself!) not necessarily organic or locally sourced. According to Trader Joe’s, if their packaging does not list the country of origin, then it is from the U.S.
- Da-Le Ranch- in Lake Elsinore, CA; pastured chicken, beef, pork, eggs, and other small game animals; at most farmers markets in town
- Living Earth Ranch- Potrero, CA (SD county)- over 200 acre ranch in San Diego county; pastured chickens (whole); at several farmers markets in town
- Descanso Valley Ranch- pastured chickens (whole); Leucadia, Little Italy Mercato farmers markets
- Catalina Offshore Products- locally sourced/sustainable seafood; this wholesale fishmonger also sells to the public
- Sage Mountain Farm- sells pastured beef, and I heard through the grapevine that they may begin selling pork
- Glacier Grown- ranch based in Montana, they make twice yearly deliveries to southern California. Grass-fed beef and bison; also raw honey. I buy a lot then store it in a chest freezer
Milk & Dairy
- Trader Joe’s Cream Top milk- unhomogenized, pasteurized organic whole milk; a private label product which actually comes from Straus Family Creamery, a fine northern California farm.
- Claravale Farm- raw cow milk, raw goat milk, cream, butter, ice cream and cheeses; available at some local stores and the Hillcrest Farmers Market
- Organic Pastures Raw Dairy- central California; available at Sprouts and local co-ops; raw cow milk, butter, cream
- Kerrygold butter- from Ireland, where all cattle are pastured (by law); most supermarkets, Trader Joe’s, and Costco carry it
- Cheeses- Trader Joe’s carries a fine selection of cheese, some raw (aged at least 60 days by law); they seem to have the best prices when compared to other stores
Pastured eggs; seems like there are more and more pastured egg sellers popping up these days; I recently found two new vendors at local farmers markets. Expect to pay around $7/dozen for pastured. If I’m courting a new egg vendor, I always ask them about how they raise the chickens.
- Paradise Valley Ranch (aka Avocado Lovers)- at farmers markets; I’ve only seen them carry eggs at North Park farmers market; $7/dozen
- Da-Le Ranch- at most farmers markets (except Hillcrest); $7/doz.
- Suzie’s Farm- has them at their farm stand, and I think they just started carrying them at farmers markets; $8/dozen
- Descanso Valley Ranch- newer pastured egg sellers; Leucadia, Little Italy Mercato farmers markets; they also sell meat birds; eggs $7/doz. or $15/flat which has 30 eggs BEST DEAL!
- Your neighbor who raises backyard chickens- if you’re lucky enough to live next to an urban farmer, this is probably your best bet for local, pastured chicken eggs! That is, unless you raise your own!
What exactly is “real” food and a “traditional” diet?
- Meat- pastured animals, meaning they spend most of their lives outside, eating pasture, grazing, mating and giving birth naturally, etc. “Organic” is lacking with regard to meat quality because, e.g. a cow can still be raised in a facotry and simply be fed organic grains
- Beef- grass-fed, as cows evolved to eat and digest silage (grass), not grain; cows will sometimes eat seeding grasses, which are grains, but it’s not a major part of their diet
- Chicken- pastured, getting to run around, eating grass, bugs, larvae, etc.
- Pork- pastured, not confined, eating veggie and fruit scraps; they’re great recyclers, eating just about anything
- Bone broth- made from the bones, some meat, cartilage, and connective tissue of pastured animals; has amazing mineral content, and gelatin (which is good for us); the good stuff is slow cooked for up to 3 days
- Milk & Dairy
- Personally I don’t buy raw dairy because I find it tends to ‘sour’ faster than pasteurized milk. Actually it is still perfectly fine to use ‘sour’ raw milk to make cheese or yogurt. But since I only use milk for coffee, it doesn’t work as well. Unhomogenized is the perfect tradeoff for me.
- See Where is My Milk From? to learn the exact place where dairy products originate; enter the plant code from the carton, e.g. plant 06-93
- Pastured (not pasteurized!) eggs mean the hens get to run around on the ground, eating bugs, worms, larvae and grasses (they’re omnivores!) They are usually more nutritious than “vegetarian fed” hens, and usually have a deep yellow or orange yolk
- Pastured eggs are usually not washed (meaning they might have some dirt, dried droppings or hay on them). Do not wash eggs until you are ready to use them, as they contain a helpful bloom which protects the eggs from pathogens.
- Outside the fridge, unwashed eggs will keep a month.
- “Free-range” label is a dodgy marketing term and generally means nothing
- “Organic” label is also not trustworthy, because the hens may still be raised in batteries/factory farms, and are just fed organic grains
- Coconut oil, olive oil, and fats from pastured animals (tallow, lard); avoid any kind of oils (like canola) which are usually processed with high heat or harsh chemicals
- Organic Vegetables and Fruits, grown locally and as seasonally as possible
- Fermented foods- DIY! duh!
- Seeds, nuts grains, flours that have been soaked, sprouted, or fermented; soaking is a traditional method of preparation, and reduces phytates and enzyme inhibitors, both which block absorption of other minerals, and are thus called “anti-nutrients”
I’ve just skimmed the surface here; there are entire books and blogs dedicated to Real food.